The difficulty with election campaigns is that it is easy for candidates to promise the moon and then change their views when they get elected and it comes to actual implementation of policies. So comparing them is hard. But in the case of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, both have served at the same time in the US Senate from January 2007 to January 2009 and this gives us a good way to directly compare their records by looking at how they voted on the same issues.
It should not be a surprise that they voted the same way 93% of the time since many issues are not very controversial and Sanders does, after all, caucus with Clinton’s Democratic party. But they did differ on 31 votes and Derek Willis has organized those votes into various categories such as foreign policy and defense, immigration, the financial crisis, energy, homeland security, and miscellaneous topics.
The 31 times that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders disagreed happened to be on some the biggest issues of the day, including measures on continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an immigration reform bill and bank bailouts during the depths of the Great Recession. Mr. Sanders, who formally kicked off his campaign Tuesday evening in Burlington, Vt., was opposed to all these actions.
An interesting factoid is that while Sanders was on six of the 31 occasions willing to be on the side of a tiny minority (which I define as less than 10 votes), Clinton never was. It adds support to the view that Clinton is a very cautious politician, wary of being too far away from the mainstream.